- Associated Press - Thursday, September 1, 2016

DEKALB, Ill. (AP) - Jeff Foster is on a mission to inspire DeKalb County’s youth one cup of coffee at a time.

Common Grounds, 150 E. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb, is gearing up for the anticipated rush of the college crowd. The shop hosted its grand opening July 13, but Foster said he believes Northern Illinois University’s student body could help further the message of creativity and acceptance he is working to establish.

“I want to see the creative kids touched and find mentors for them,” Foster said. “I’m thinking we’ll develop that after school starts, maybe with some students who are ready to graduate. They can come and plug in and talk to seventh- through 10th-graders, for instance, and encourage them.”

Common Grounds also serves as one of the area’s only book sellers. Customers are free to browse or buy the new and used books, ranging in price from $1 to $15. Anyone who buys a book will receive $1 off any drink purchase or $1 off three drinks if they bring a friend to the shop.

“The collection of books is really eclectic. Most people will come in here and see something they’ve read and they want to read it again or recommend it to someone else. That’s the goal,” Foster said. “I’m always surprised what people want to read. And then they make recommendations and so now I’m on the search. I’m trying to find more books.”

Foster moved in 2012 from Des Plaines to DeKalb with the intention of setting a creative and progressive atmosphere for the area’s younger crowd.

“I said well, two things that I see stopping progress from happening are one - businesses close and that’s an obvious thing,” Foster said. “But if we can open a business, I want to be a place where people feel like they can browse, and they can read books again, and get off their devices for a bit, and actually discuss things.”

DeKalb First Church helps fund Common Grounds, but Foster said he doesn’t want the shop to have a large religious presence. The business’ main goal is to create an environment where ideas are born, he said.

“We have a purpose,” Foster said. “The theme is a place where anyone can get inspired. Part of what we want to do is let people dream a little bit.”

Common Grounds uses fair trade coffee beans and works with a number of local and worldwide organizations. The shop returns 10 percent of all coffee sales to Camino Island Roasters and donates a portion of its earnings to the anti-human trafficking campaign, Set Free Movement.

“People just aren’t aware of how children are abandoned around the world, and a little purchase of coffee can slow that process and help them take care of their families,” Foster said.

Locally, Common Grounds has partnered with Love in the Name of Christ. Foster also has plans to start a “Big Picture Buddy” mentor program to encourage young artists to guide and spend time with DeKalb County’s creative youth, he said.

“The big picture is that we should all be working toward good,” Foster said. “No matter what religious perspective you come from. Are we all working toward the greater good?”


Source: The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle, https://bit.ly/2blCGKP


Information from: The Daily Chronicle, https://www.daily-chronicle.com

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